With just some crucial months left before Delhi goes to the Assembly polls in February 2020, the Delhi government has reportedly come up with a proposal of providing free metro and bus rides to women.
The move, the government apparently thinks, will benefit the poorer sections. So, let’s just forget the impending elections then — and the clear need for the AAP government to pull out all the stops in the face of the BJP’s blitzkrieg in the recent Lok Sabha 2019 elections.
Shorn of its political feathers though, the idea is utterly ridiculous.
AAP vs Metro: Stop. And Stop. Not much Go. (Photo: PTI)
We all know that the DMRC is a PSU in which both the state (Delhi government) and the Centre have 50% stake. Previously, the Delhi government proposed a reduction in fares — which was not implemented by the DMRC. So, this time too, it’s just a tool of state-Centre politics.
Coming to the bigger issue, how could the government even think that free rides will solve the basic problems women commuters of the city face each and every day?
These are the five flaws in the proposed plan:
1. The issue that women commuters face with Delhi public transport is security — that should be the first priority of the government. As you once said, Mr Kejriwal, women's safety is your priority. But you have taken a short-cut now which makes it look like votes are your priority. Can you ensure enough street lights in Delhi instead?
2. Gender-based freebies don’t empower anyone — the moment you discriminate and patronise people like this, you take a step a back from actual empowerment. Income-based sops may have worked. But that’s obviously near-impossible to conceptualise now.
3. Delhi Metro is overburdened. Once it introduces any kind of concession, it will be even more burdened. And its infrastructure will crumble. If anything, it actually needs infrastructure development as a number of new lines have been added — and for that, it needs money.
4. The CM said that the Delhi government will bear the entire cost of the move, which is around Rs 1,200 crore. So, it apparently won't need the Centre's approval. We so want that bureaucracy (and everything in life) actually worked like that — when we have the money, we don't need permissions.
Also, the next time the government says it doesn’t have money for something, we all know where to go.
5. This subsidy is not an imposition, the CM said. Those who want to buy tickets can buy.
We haven’t heard anything so confused in recent times.
On being asked why the subsidy excludes male passengers, the CM actually said that once the free rides for women get started, he will think about it.
Right? Metro rides will become free for all? And bus rides too?
What an idea, CM ji!